Masters Thesis

Gender stereotypes and their effects on Kern County political candidates

The purpose of this study is to address the different ways in which female and male candidates are combating gender stereotypes in political campaigns. Society has led us to believe that masculine qualities are the qualities in which make good leaders; feminine qualities are seen as weaknesses if found in those seeking leadership positions. The general stereotypes held by society convey a hierarchical system of beliefs in leadership capabilities that place men above women, masculine above feminine. I investigate these stereotypes by conducting interviews with male and female political candidates and/or political office holders within Kern County. The findings in this study support existing evidence that females face “double standards” in the political arena and therefore must counter certain stereotypes associated with femininity by the voting public. This study also finds that male candidates have had to change the way in which the campaign in order for voters to see them as more “approachable;” however, the hurdles for female candidates are much more consistent and more difficult to overcome in order to be successful within the predominantly masculine world of politics.

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